“Constitutional Right to Literacy” Lawsuits: Another one of public education’s well-intentioned but terribly flawed and distracting pursuits.

“Constitutional Right to Literacy” lawsuits are one of many public education’s ‘wasting time’ things that we do; like distractedly chasing social integration. A wrongly predicated idea that black behinds must sit next to white behinds in order for Black minds to perform well academically. How about doing something really daring and dangerous; why not try to racially integrate and distribute the quality of instruction that the nation’s entitled and privileged public school kids enjoy!

Let’s Start…Raise your right hand…Do you swear to tell the whole truth (or just half of it)?

To the best of their physical capability:

(1) Should every elementary school child leave their public elementary school having mastered the English Language Arts (ELA) curriculum learning standards for the elementary grades; and be totally prepared to engage the middle school ELA learning standards? (short basic version for non-professional educators): Can they read an elementary reader by the 6th grade?) Yes__ or No__

(2) At the end of every public middle school student’s time in their middle school, should they have mastered the middle school’s ELA learning standards, and be totally prepared to fully engage (able to read high school course materials) with the ELA requirements they will face in high school? (short basic version: are they able to read a high school textbook by the 8th grade?) Yes__ or No__

(3) Any student who graduates from a public high school, must be ELA ‘ready’ to read, speak and write competently for a successful adult employment job, a Career Technical Education (CTE) apprenticeship program, a career in the military or federal, state or local civil service employment; and they should not be forced (to waste money and time) and the college’s time by being forced to essentially take a “13th” year of high school ELA courses? (short basic version: Can they read a CTE construction trades or college level textbook, or the questions on a civil service exam?) Yes__ or No__

Everyone’s answer to all of the above three questions should be: Yes! Yes! and Yes! But if your answer is “NO” to any of the three aforementioned questions, which essentially means “No” to all three (that’s another topic for another post!), then you could probably save yourself a lot of time and grief if you stop reading this posting right now; because you are definitely not going to like where I am heading!

But if you are still with me, here is the problem… Who does or does not get adequately educated in our nation’s schools is a political, and not an educational decision. Trust me, I think by now that we have a good handle on how to teach a child how to read (do math, science, history, etc.); we even know how to accomplish that ‘feat’ if when we start the process, the children (and/or their families) speak little or no English…

The previously laid out three (elem., middle and high) school level learning objectives should not need to be legislated or legally established into existence. They are, wait on it, what public schooling is actually supposed to do; which it does do, for a ‘selective’ group of students (I did say no half-truths!) Legislating and legally forcing a government/public agency to fully fill its stated mission obligation, suggest to that agency that there are ‘other options’ available to not fulfill its mission. It’s sort of what we principals tell ‘newbie’ teachers: “Any option or choice outside of your authority and decision making, that you give to students; be prepared to not be shocked if your students select that option or choice, no matter how educationally self-harming their decision is to their safety, educational well-being and success!”

Imagine for a moment that hospitals had to be forced legislatively to not try to kill the majority of patients who come to them for medical assistance; what if firefighters had to be taken to court because they refused to put out any house fires; and the US military services would require a law that would legally compel them to defend the nation! Can the goal of getting the courts (as was the case with NYC) to force more money the school system’s way be accomplished; sure, but just ‘more money’ for ‘more money’ sake is not a good academic improvement and achievement strategy; alas, we can’t keep throwing good (taxpayers) money at bad education and expect something positive to happen!

The fundamental problem that so many parents face when trying to get their child a fundamentally sound basic and good education; is that the system itself is not structured to provide it. And when ‘nullifying’ the mission statement is the driving operational philosophy of an organization, then simply feeding it more money is not the best ‘fixing’ and improvement agent. In fact, the present legislative and statutory profile of public education insures that it won’t work for most students because the existing laws, statutes, workplace rules and regulations are structured for adult employment success, comfort and enjoyment, not student academic success.

There are just too many children (in Detroit, Chicago, NYC, etc.) who are doomed educationally by virtue of their zip code (aka race, finances and ethnicity). If these students are exposed to one or more years of ineffective, incompetent, low-expectations, lacking in compassion and efficacy school administrators and/or teachers*, they will suffer very difficult to reverse educational harm. Therefore, the systemic solution and power to ‘fully educate’ those children is already in the hands of local, state and federal legislators and executives. Also in their (elected officials) hands, is the power to provide the type of serious funding that Title-1 (poor) schools need in order to effectively and properly address the social, economic, health and ‘hurdles-to-learning’ needs that most of our students bring to school each day; without the necessary support these students don’t have a fair chance at learning how to read or learn anything else for that matter while they are in school.

What we can’t continue to do is what we always do, and that is throwing a lot of good taxpayers money ($773 million in the case of NYC) at bad tried and truly failed before educational enrichment practices, and expecting something magically different to happen, and then act shocked when it doesn’t!

And so perhaps, instead of trying to get your state or federal judges to make laws like: “the department of sanitation should collect and dispose of our garbage”; and, “air traffic controllers should keep planes a safe distance from each other”! Maybe the solution to ‘fixing’ a broken public education system, is to hold your local, state and federal elected officials and executives accountable; after all, they already have all of the powerful tools they need to solve the problem!

*it was recently reported in one NYC paper that the NYC Department of Education ‘carries’ (as in keeps on the payroll) a boat load of unassigned tenured teachers, for close to a cost of $100 million dollars; but in fairness to the present Chancellor, this is a very, very old practice that even predates my 1990’s NYC principal years.

You may also want to look at:
On Education: If you are waiting on a judge… https://www.ourtimepress.com/on-education-if-you-are-waiting-on-a-judge-to-rule-that-your-child-should-be-able-to-read-write-effectively-by-the-12th-grade-well/

Michael A. Johnson has served as a NYC public school teacher, principal, school district superintendent and as an adjunct professor of education at St. John’s University. His book on school leadership is titled: “Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership.” [http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/]

Eight Grade Algebra Gives Students an Important College/Career STEM* Start

Eight Grade Algebra Gives Students an Important College/Career STEM* Start

“Entire Bronx Success Academy class aces statewide math exam”: https://nypost.com/2019/07/01/entire-bronx-success-academy-class-aces-statewide-math-exam/

Deng Xiaoping the former architect of China’s present ‘market-economic’ system once said: “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white so long as it catches mice.” And so I am not engaging in the traditional vs. charter school battle here. For sure, I am extremely happy for these young people and their teacher. My focus is on something that many of us have been saying for many years. (I talk about this in my book) And that is the advantage that many students have in this nation over less-advantaged (but equally capable) students when they enter high school; and this is because the advantaged children have taken a high school level Algebra 1 course in the 8th grade. The first advantage is that these students are able to take Algebra 1 under very favorable and less-stressful middle school conditions (1) Adults don’t realize this, and most 9th grade students don’t articulate it, but transitioning into a high school setting creates various levels of stress for most students (e.g. new teachers, less ‘nurturing’ environment, the school’s size, they move from ‘top to bottom dog’, etc.).(2) Offering Algebra 1 in the 8th grade means that this course could be offered in an extended format (e.g. double periods, after-school, weekends, etc.) and a ‘comfortably familiar’ place, without competing with a full-program of ‘tough’ high school courses. In fact, we proved at the Science Skills Center pre-high school after-school program, that even earlier then 8th grade students, who are not facing extremely challenging courses in their regular school can focus large amounts of their intellectual powers (and do well) on a high school course and standardized exam for which they have been prepared. And on that note, (3) As was the case with Ms.Karina Mateo the Algebra 1 teacher for this great class, it is very easy to convince pre-high school students to take on the course as a mission of self-empowerment; especially when it is hinted that “people” don’t expect them to succeed. They very much want the ‘bragging rights’ to say to every high school kid they know and the entire world: “I conquered a high school course!” They will approach the mastery of the content material as if it was a personal and group challenge. (4) An additional important benefit is that these 8th grade Algebra-1 high achieving students are perfectly on track to take a regular high school or AP calculus course. This will then place them in an excellent position to not only do well in high school physics, but to also be prepared to hold their own in any post-high school college STEM major course.

We have known for many years that Algebra-1 is the ‘great gate-keeper’ either into or away from a STEM college career. But the ‘gate’ shuts early and often for some students. The problem is that students cannot take, let alone do well in Algebra-1 if they don’t receive a first-rate pre-Algebra arithmetic experience. And in my view the ‘planned’ real segregation of thousands of very capable Black and Latino students from access to a quality pre-Algebra mathematics experience (especially when it is offered in a gifted and talented program), is the real and explicit “bias” and ‘racism’ that should be addressed and eradicated by the NYCDOE.
The only hope for these children is if the Black and Latino communities focus, organize, agitate, and force their leaders to act as if they were not rhetorically hypnotized into only wanting a few specialized high schools symbolic integration seats for a few kids of color; but instead demand the removal of the real (and not meaningless ‘made-for-dramatic-effect’) discrimination barriers that prevent Black and Latino children from receiving a first-class K-8 mathematics education. We know the NYC mayor can quote Che Guevara, now let’s see if we can get him to follow the words of Jaime (Stand and Deliver) Escalante!

“If we expect kids to be losers they will be losers; if we expect them to be winners they will be winners. They rise, or fall, to the level of the expectations of those around them, especially their parents and their teachers.”— Jaime Escalante

Michael A. Johnson has served as a NYC public school teacher, principal, school district superintendent and as an adjunct professor of education at St. John’s University. His book on school leadership is titled: “Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership.” [http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/]

*STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

The Most Racially Progressive any NYC Teacher can be is to be Effective.

The Most Racially Progressive any NYC Teacher can be is to be Effective

“As a principal, I’ve met teachers I wouldn’t want anywhere near my kids, and then there were many great and wonderful teachers who I’d hire 100 times over, regardless of that teacher’s race or nationality. Black students can’t wait for America to get its “racial act” together; they need a quality instructional experience, immediately. I often tell school administrators…” Read the full article at: Our Time Press:http://www.ourtimepress.com/the-most-racially-progressive-any-nyc-teacher-can-be-is-to-be-effective/

The treatment of Ayesha Curry proves once again, that in a shallow and soulless culture, no good service deed will go unpunished.

I thought that Ayesha Curry, the multidimensional and multitalented entrepreneur, and wife of professional basketball player Stephen Curry; recently performed a great public service. And of course she was immediately linguistically beat up by social media.

On a talk show hosted by Jada Smith (Red Table Talk: https://www.facebook.com/redtabletalk/videos/621830118291335/), Ms. Curry bravely admitted to some very human fears and vulnerabilities. I felt her honest self-assessment, coming from a person many probably presume to “have it all”, at least all that many think that we want; opened the door for all of us, not just women, to examine the status of our own emotional profiles. How do we really feel about ourselves as opposed to what other people think about (and what we lead them to think) about our ‘selves’?

Most of us are to some extent ‘made-up’ and ‘costumed’ characters in a self-written play we hope the world will sit and applaud without question. And so, we instinctively feel uncomfortable at the slightest expression of Ms. Curry’s type of authenticity that breaks the rules of the ‘pretend’ game. Imagine that, surprise, we ain’t all that people, and we, think that we are! And maybe we are even a little (or a lot) afraid that the ‘public’ will see through our daily PR presentations and see us in our fully emotionally naked and somewhat flawed human state.

Time has taught me that many ‘situations’ and relationships I wished I had, were, once the curtains were completely pulled back, in fact pure hellacious existences. Things (and people) are never as good as they appear to be. And the kicker is when someone whose life you ‘coveted’ (yes, I meant covet in the biblical sense); one day confesses to you that it is your life that they dreamed of living! Suffering and despair is often ‘hiding’ in plain sight; and most of us feel that it is not our business (concern?) to go behind and beyond the mask we are presented.

And what about this idea (male driven?) that it’s okay to calmly and openly talk about a broken arm, and not a broken heart; living-well lifestyles and not loneliness; all of this driven by a culture of: ‘appearances is everything’. And even the most animated practitioners of religion, who show so much interest in saving a person’s ‘soul’, seem to show so little concern and compassion for that person’s earthly personal sorrows. I am personally tired of a theology of: “look at your neighbor and tell them God is going to bless me with a car”; and not, “look at your neighbor and think about what they are going through!”

Recently, like many Americans I was shocked to read about the NYC man who allegedly murdered his 3 year old child in a burning car that he purposely rendered the doors difficult to open by responding police and fire-personnel*. My thinking was that he was seeking to inflict the greatest amount of pain and suffering he could imagine on his child’s mother; with whom he was having some type of ‘relationship/custody dispute’. But what was going on before this horrific event? Did anyone around him see any ‘danger signs’? And did the man himself express his sense of ‘losing it’ over this relationship/custody/conflict issue? We need to make the world a safe place where those who are hurting emotionally can tell the people around them how they truly feel; and those around them can hear and respond quickly without judgement. These true caring friends can then immediately get that person some psychotherapeutic counseling help and support.
How many of us have stood by and watched as people were crying out (openly and subtlety) for help; and then there is the tragic act; and then we talk about what we could or should have done.

Social media is not helping which is why I had to take a step back from it. I realized that too many people were using social media to ‘settle scores’, act mean, say ugly and dehumanizing things, under the protection of electronic distance. For many people, social media platforms functioned as a place to play out their emotional pain, in a bitter and verbally aggressive way. I went on social media first to keep up with the wonderful progress (and children) of my former students. I also saw it as a learning tool (including learning more about those things I disagreed with); I wanted to applaud achievements, encourage and lift people up. But I found the daily high level of negativity, disrespect and ugliness depressing.

Having a commander and chief whose crude utterances are driven by malevolence and the nullification of the ‘other’, surely does not help. And I think that even many citizens who oppose him politically; have subconsciously been infected with his aversion to human kindness approach to life. I truly feel that he has not created, but rather exposed the moral depravity, hidden in the hearts of many ‘decency-fronting’, dare I say Christian posturing, US citizens. I think that deep down and below the highly evolved parts of our brains that we love to show off as the ‘pride of our species’, are the ‘primitive’ unevolved parts, that really likes and admires the grunting brutal bully of the pack.

I am only one voice, and it is much too small to reach Ayesha Curry (or her many attackers). But if I could, I would tell her thank you for your kind act of service, and I apologize for some of us for not appreciating and treating you better. Hopefully, like a professional educator, the goodness and beauty of your contribution might for the most part initially go unnoticed; but then wonderfully show itself when the need arises in a near or distant future. Perhaps the many folks you’ll never meet, who thought that if they only had a (better) relationship, more or less of something, different jobs, a bigger house or more money, that their self-unrecognized, unaddressed suffering and hurt would end. And now, thanks to you their true healing journey can actually begin.

*A Burning Car With Doors Chained Shut, and a 3-Year-Old Victim, in Queens: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/06/nyregion/queens-car-fire-child-death.html

Michael A. Johnson has served as a teacher, principal, and a school district superintendent. He has written a book on school leadership: Report to the Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership… http://reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/

“Having a Bad Mom Doesn’t Mean you will be a Bad Mom – How Foster Care Saved me.”–BY BROOKLYN COCOA MOM

Reading this blog post I could not get through many paragraphs without crying, so many memories, and every reason we should never give up on our children. So many of them, push aside their pain and suffering, and somehow manage to show up to school every day; just ‘being present’ in school for many, is a supreme act of courage. Since she was a teenager, this young lady was always a great source of inspiration for me every day of school; and now as a professional Librarian and wonderful mother, I could not begin to express my pride in the women she has become. This is the true “grit” that fake best-seller award-winning book authors ignore (They have even confused many should-know-better Black folks as to who are the most courageous and ‘grit empowered’ students in public education!) I know you are supposed to ‘let them go’ at graduation; but you can’t control when they make a powerful lasting impression on your heart, forever. Letitia like so many of my former students, has come to represent the full meaning of my life’s love, work and meaning: and as long as I have people like her, then whatever things ‘shows up’ in my life as ‘disappointments’; I can live with them.

“Having a Bad Mom Doesn’t Mean you will be a Bad Mom – How Foster Care Saved me”:

“How the Job of Supervising Principals Is Changing”

To create transformative school-based leaders, we need to invest time and thought into how we transform those leaders. The principalship in many school districts suffers from the absence of not having really good supervisory/coaching support.

“How the Job of Supervising Principals Is Changing”:


By Denisa R. Superville; Education Week; April 25, 2019

These are the moments when you feel that every sacrifice was worth it!

These are the moments when you feel that every sacrifice was worth it!

The email feedback about the book is great. The Book talks are great, in particular I love the professional conversations; and I always learn something important (about myself and the work) in the Q & A sessions. All of these experiences are helping to frame the next book. But I must admit, the feedback below is the #1 reason I wrote the book. I really want to help the ‘on the front line’ school based administrators to create the kind of change that will ultimately make them, their teachers and their students successful!

This warmed my heart!

This, from one of the nation’s top secondary school administrators speaking of her History department chairperson:

“…I asked her to read your book*…specifically the chapter about creating a strong social studies/History department. The end result was great…She centered her departmental meetings around the needs of the department and the guidance in your book. She told me to tell you thank you! For me, I too say thank you so much for your continued leadership.”

Excerpt From Building an Effective History Department:

“When developing or refocusing a history department, some of the questions the faculty must pose and answer are:

•Why are we requiring students to study past topics in the world, America, state, local, and civics-economics studies? Why is geography and cultural literacy important? Is this just about studying: “Dead people, dead places, and dead times?” Or, is there a larger and more important purpose at work here?

•What are the conceptual standards that would define the level of historical literacy required for a graduate of our school? What are the major (defining) historical movements, places, events, and people that we believe they should be familiar?

•How will the history department weave the study of anthropology, geology, political science, economics, social psychology, and social movements/ideas into the course of study?

•Very important, what is the history department’s approach to current events, an important study that I believe has become a lost instructional art. Also can the history department link current events to past events and further to their possible influence on future events.

•How will the department pedagogically, and in a safe and productive way, address the difficult past and current conversations around topics of race, economics, ethnicity, LGBTQ, gender studies, immigration, religion, and power?

•If the high school has a theme (e.g., STEM-CTE, performing arts, fashion, culinary arts), how can the history department reflect, reinforce, and enhance the school’s thematic mission?

•In a Title I school, or a school with large numbers of students of color, or in racially, culturally, and economically diverse schools, what role (if any) should the history department play in empowering students for whom the larger society (as well as public education systems) has systematically and historically denied access to the full fruits of the American Dream? And how do we address these issues while fulfilling our ethical requirements of making the school a safe and comfortable space for White students and staff persons?

•How will the history department address the issues of the curriculum cultural deficiencies, inaccuracies, falsehoods, and in some cases, demeaning historical portrayals and treatment of certain people; regions and nations of the world?…”

*Report To The Principal’s Office: Tools for Building Successful High School Administrative Leadership: reporttotheprincipalsoffice.net/

“I know that creating a solid, rigorous education for all black and brown kids in NYC public schools can be achieved. I lived it!”— Shari Logan New York Post Metro Reporter

A great opinion piece from a great and talented journalist. The message for all educators: Assume greatness in every student under your care! I really hope that Shari and the NY Post don’t let up on this topic. As a professional educator I am dismayed by the huge amount of ‘negative messaging’ that suggest that Black and Latino children are born with inherent learning deficits that can only be helped by way of lowering standards. The truth is that NYC is blessed with many smart, wonderful and willing to learn at a high level Shari Logans, who are just waiting for someone to give them the opportunity to display their gifts and talents!

Setting a high bar for nonelite schools works — I’m proof
By Shari Logan–NY Post April 6, 2019

When I began high school 20 years ago in September 1999, I was not frightened about the impending workload. I had a clear idea of what was expected of me.
I had just completed a summer enrichment program for selected incoming freshmen. About 100 of us completed daily assignments in math, science and English. We read several books, such as “Gifted Hands” by Dr. Ben Carson. We learned about the school’s robotics team.

Our teachers constantly reminded us of their high expectations: Get to class on time, complete every assignment, pass every test with an “A,” graduate on time and get accepted into college.

I did not attend one of the elite specialized high schools, but Science Skills Center HS in downtown Brooklyn — one of several hundred city schools that don’t use the SHSAT exam to admit kids.

Whether or not the controversial SHSAT exam is kept or abolished, the other schools must raise the bar.

Science Skills Center seemed to have all the makings of a low-performing, inner-city school. The population was majority African American and Hispanic — like 70 percent of today’s public-school students. Many qualified for free or reduced-price lunch.

Despite those factors, we passed our Regents exams with flying colors and 90 percent graduated in four years. Our college acceptance letters were brightly wallpapered in the school lobby to encourage us to soar.

Each morning, Principal Michael A. Johnson shook each student’s hand and told us, “Make it a great day.” On Wednesdays, students took part in “Dress for Success” to get used to wearing career attire.

We boasted graduates in every profession imaginable — from cops and city employees to educators, entrepreneurs, and computer programmers, plus at least one journalist.

I know that creating a solid, rigorous education for all black and brown kids in NYC public schools can be achieved. I lived it.

Shari Logan is a New York Post metro reporter

Original Opinion Page: https://nypost.com/2019/04/06/setting-a-high-bar-for-nonelite-schools-works-im-proof/

“New York City school districts with the largest black and Hispanic enrollment offer the fewest programs for gifted and talented children — a void one successful graduate calls “educational genocide.”

I must say that the NY Post has properly nailed this topic! Congrats to Susan Edelman for some great journalism. This is the side of the story that is not being covered by most media outlets (I wonder why?). The focus unfortunately has been on the topic of ‘racial integration’, and not the vastly more important objective of the integration of rigorous high level learning for NYC’s Black and Latino K-8 children! Hat’s off to Jumaane Williams and Robert Cornegy Jr for standing firm for higher standards for all children regardless of zip code!

‘Educational genocide’: NYC schools are leaving black and Hispanic students behind By Susan Edelman NY Post April 6, 2019

New York City school districts with the largest black and Hispanic enrollment offer the fewest programs for gifted and talented children — a void one successful graduate calls “educational genocide.”

“It’s like killing off a group of people who are not getting the quality of education they deserve, and it’s a crime,” said Tai Abrams, a 2005 alumna of the Bronx HS of Science, a specialized high school that has bred eight Nobel and eight Pulitzer prize winners.

Abrams, who left Wall Street to tutor bright minority kids, and other alumni of the city’s elite high schools told The Post that they credit their early education in programs for gifted students for getting them into the top schools.
Today, 10 school districts with 88 percent to 96 percent black and Hispanic enrollment have only one K-5 Gifted and Talented program or none, city data show.
Of the 15,979 children in the city’s 86 G&T programs, only 21 percent are black and Hispanic kids, though they make up nearly 70 percent of the total public-school enrollment. Another 73 percent are Asian and white. Alumni, city lawmakers and educators decry the disparity.

“There’s nothing wrong with the brains of black and Latino kids,” said Michael A. Johnson, a respected former Queens principal and superintendent. “Good, rigorous gifted and talented education can prepare them.”

Led by Robert Cornegy Jr., 19 City Council members sent a letter to Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza last month saying the disappearance of G&T programs for black and brown kids was to blame for their low rate of acceptance to eight specialized high schools.

Black and Hispanic kids received just 10.6 percent of the 4,798 seats offered for the 2019-20 school year at those high schools, while whites got 28.5 percent and Asian Americans 51 percent.

Before 2008, the 32 community school districts each used various measures to choose kids for G&T classes. Then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg changed the system citywide to require a minimum 90th-percentile score on national standardized intelligence tests.

As a result, from 2009 to 2013, the city Department of Education closed some 60 G&T programs, mostly in black and brown neighborhoods. Not enough kids took the tests or As a result, from 2009 to 2013, the city Department of Education closed some 60 G&T programs, mostly in black and brown neighborhoods. Not enough kids took the tests or scored high enough to justify the cost, officials decided.
“Parents living in poverty don’t know about this test. It’s an awareness problem,” said James Borland, an education professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, who focuses on gifted issues.

“In the wealthier areas of town, more kids take the test. And standardized tests advantage kids from wealthier families who can afford the test prep, so it’s a double whammy.” Asian students received most offers to city’s elite high schools
Since 2016, the de Blasio administration has added G&T classes in eight schools in black and brown neighborhoods for kids in grades 3 to 5 who are chosen without taking the test. While 88 percent of kids in these classes are black and Hispanic, the enrollment totals only 176, data show.

Several alumni told The Post that more G&T programs could change the equation.
Abrams, the daughter of Guyanese immigrants and raised by a single mom, was valedictorian of the first graduating class of PS 235, the Lenox Academy, then a K-8 public school for gifted children in Flatbush. Today, the school runs an advanced reading program for high-performers. All passed the Regents math exam in seventh grade — Abrams got 100 — shocking school officials who demanded they retake it. “They thought we cheated,” she said. All seven kids scored high enough on the SHSAT, the sole entry criterion for the specialized schools, to get in: One went to Stuyvesant HS, Abrams and another went to Bronx Science and the rest went to Brooklyn Tech.

Abrams earned a bachelor’s in math from Duke University. After two internships on Wall Street as an investment banker, she worked for a business-consulting firm.
But she left to give minority kids the same prep she received. In 2016, she founded AdmissionSquad, a nonprofit that helps get high-achieving middle-schoolers into top city high schools and colleges. It charges fees on a sliding scale from $100 to $350 a month. Her philosophy: “Give them the access, give them the opportunity to rise to the occasion, and you’ll see that they can do the work.”

Last year, Safina, Ralph and Semira Davis — a set of eighth-grade triplets from Mount Vernon, The Bronx — traveled to AdmissionSquad in Brooklyn for four months. All got into top city high schools: Safina was one of 10 black students admitted to Stuyvesant, Ralph went to Brooklyn Latin and Semira got into Beacon HS.

Abrams is against abolishing the SHSAT — which Mayor de Blasio and Carranza say is the way to boost diversity.

“I believe those schools are designed for the city’s gifted and talented students. They’re designed for advanced learning. The test serves as a mechanism to select those students,” she said.

“The test is a meritocracy. You’ve got to study hard, study well and show up on exam day. From that perspective, it’s fair,” she said.

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams agreed. Schooled in G&T, he said he wouldn’t have gotten into Brooklyn Tech if not for his SHSAT score. “My grades were terrible, and I had behavior issues,” he said. He graduated Tech in 1994.
While Williams may back multiple measures to admit kids, he vowed, “I will not support any plan that takes away having the test.”

As for G&T programs in black and Hispanic areas, “I think we have to bring them back,” he said.

Brooklyn Tech alums Michael Walker and Stephanie Jackson say gifted classes got them into the elite school.

Michael Walker attended Brooklyn Tech from 1979 to 1983, when black students outnumbered white ones. G&T in elementary and accelerated Special Progress classes in middle school paved his way.

“That education was our prep program. We weren’t taught how to pass an exam. We were being taught the material on the exam,” he said.

His fiancée, Stephanie Jackson, Brooklyn Tech Class of ’86, was placed in an Intellectually Gifted Children class in grade school and went on to gifted classes at the former Satellite West, a middle school a middle school near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

“I recall reading ‘Othello’ in eighth grade,” she said. “Satellite had a rigorous program in science, math, English and the arts. We were nurtured and prepared and told we could compete.”

Jackson and Walker also oppose elimination of the SHSAT.
“It’s a badge of honor to be able to say you went in there, didn’t choke under pressure and delivered what was expected of you,” Jackson said.

Original article:https://nypost.com/2019/04/06/educational-genocide-nyc-schools-are-leaving-black-and-hispanic-students-behind/